What is Probate and why do I need a Solicitor? | Howells Solicitors

What is Probate and why do I need a Solicitor?

It’s not a pleasant prospect, but at some point during your life you will lose a loved one, and you may be left responsible for what happens to their possessions and property.

The last thing you want during this traumatic time is the burden of paper work, applications and trying to make sense of what is expected of you and understand the legal jargon involved with Probate – or even understanding what Probate is.

What is Probate?

When someone passes away and leaves property, money and possessions, which is referred to as their estate, someone needs to sort out who gets what.

The person who has been appointed to arrange this may need to apply for, what is known as, a ‘grant of representation’. This proves their authority to administer the estate. What form this takes will depend on whether a Will has been left or not.

If the deceased left a Will and appointed an executor (sometimes more than one executor is named), that person will need to get what is known as a ‘grant of probate’.

However, if there is no Will, the law dictates who is entitled to apply.  The rules broadly stipulate that the next of kin is entitled  to apply for what is known as a ‘grant of letters of administration’ but it can sometimes be complicated working out who is classed as the next of kin in accordance with the legal provisions

The process of applying for the grant and the document you use to manage the estate is referred to as ‘probate’.

Responsibility of an Executor

If you are appointed an executor, you are responsible for dealing with the probate, and this involves:

  • Gathering any assets, e.g. money left in bank accounts
  • Paying any bills, including various taxes
  • Distributing what’s left according to the will

If the deceased did not have a Will, this could be a difficult estate to administer.

How a Solicitor can help with Probate

The first thing to consider is that you should never under estimate the emotional and physical burden dealing with a recently deceased estate can be. Not only are you grieving but you may become overwhelmed with the amount of paper work and documents needed to deal with probate.

There are many considerations to make when dealing with probate, including registering the death, tracking down the Will, dealing with documentation for grant of probate, dealing with inheritance tax, close down bank accounts, pay off debts, deal with the deceased’s life insurance documentation, have the estate valued and share out the remaining assets. And that’s just if the deceased had a Will.

If no valid will has been left, the deceased has died ‘intestate’. In this instance, laws known as intestacy rules govern how their estate should be distributed. Unmarried or divorced partners normally don’t inherit anything under intestacy rules.

As a Solicitor, we can help with:

  • Dealing with paper work, including the application to obtain a grant and the Inheritance Tax form, sending these to the registry and providing copies to you
  • Advising you regarding the terms of the Will
  • Providing advice and information to you regarding your responsibilities as an Executor
  • Obtaining valuations of the assets and liabilities in the estate
  • Dealing with any tax that is payable or eligible for a refund
  • Dealing with complicated estate left by someone who did not make a Will
  • Challenging the validity of a Will
  • Complex arrangements in a Will, such as assets held in a trust
  • The estate if it contains foreign assets
  • Encashing the assets and paying any liabilities out of estate funds
  • Distributing the estate
  • Inheritance tax

Working with a probate Solicitor, like myself, can make the process easier and take away some of the stress for you. Not only this, but make sure that you have the best and efficient outcome possible.

To discuss your specific situation with me, call our enquiry team and make an appointment. We offer fixed fees on most of our matters and flexible appointments to suit your needs. If you can’t make it into the office we offer telephone appointments.

Contact us by calling:

Sheffield: Tel: 0114 249 66 66

Barnsley: Tel: 0122 680 51 90

Rotherham: Tel: 0170 936 40 00

or email [email protected]

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